History has always been a source of inspiration for designers, but how can we incorporate it into today’s post-internet world? Designer duo Zorya's wearable artwork, created with Preciosa nanogems and cabochons, takes its beholder on a journey back centuries, but communicates in a modern language that is easy to understand. How, you ask? Designer, Daniel Pošta explains…
Your designs are extraordinary, but Atelier Bohemia is quite specific. Is it constraining having to work within a theme?
We work much better when we have a strict brief because it pushes us to be more creative. It was tempting with such a simplistically beautiful theme as Bohemia to keep it traditional, but we really tried to push it further. We looked into the history of Crystal Valley and studied the development of crafts and industries within the region; it was rather easy to find inspiration from all of the different patterns and materials. We selected an old pattern we found embroidered on a scarf and re-interpreted it in the pieces we created.
How did you transform the pattern into a jewelry set?
We created a digital version and developed a special program that allows us to transform the pattern into pixels. In this way, we could determine where to place each stone to recreate the image.
What was it like working with Preciosa nanogems?
We don’t typically work with regular cuts, such as simple chatons, which is exactly why working with Preciosa was such a pleasure for us. The portfolio is very diverse; we were especially impressed by the opal colors with their almost psychedelic effect. The entire project was based on a fusion of modern technology with basic jewelry making techniques. Our desire was to experiment with form and to combine technological processes with creative ones not typically used in traditional goldsmithing.
If you could task our Innovations team with creating a new “Zorya” stone, what would look like?
The potential to create something truly unique in this business is enormous. It’s no longer about creating perfect imitations of natural stones, but doing exactly the opposite! Our stone wouldn’t be a copy of something found in nature, but rather a completely synthetic stone. We would then combine it with real stones to create a playful contrast between roughness and perfection. Synthetic stones are structurally more perfect than real ones, which is unique to gemology. We like to search for atypical materials and explore new ways to work with them. Recently, we started to cut fresh-waterpearls, which is not traditionally done in fine jewelry. The effect is stunning! We also often work with rough materials, like diamonds for example; we use them exactly as they are found in nature.
Do you think that this approach can appeal to a global audience? How can local themes appeal to the masses?
The only way to reach the global market is to create something authentic. We see that locally, more specific themes are becoming more interesting because they are inherently special. And it’s not only about the place and its history, but also about the people and craftsmanship. We try to stay as true to ourselves and our personalities as possible. Honesty always shows through in your work.
Can you describe the Czech aesthetic?
The Czech aesthetic is a mix between German and Russian: very strict, almost puritan cleanliness and extremely ornate. Nowadays Scandinavian minimalism dominates our lives; however, historically, most Bohemian architecture and art is a Baroque and we are used to being surrounded by ornamental and decorative objects.
Did you always want to be a designer?
I am not exactly sure when I knew that I wanted to design, but I was a creative child. I studied architecture and interior design at the atelier of Professor Jiří Pelcl, of Prague's Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design where I had the opportunity to work on many different projects, from family houses to fair stands. I discovered joy in jewelry design when I began cooperating with Zdeněk, who studied traditional goldsmithing, eleven years ago.
How do you work together?
In Zdeněk’s case, in addition to his expertise in his trade, it is his typically playful and spontaneous approach to creation. He has a talent for transforming hard cold metal into soft natural shapes, thus breathing life into it. Through intuitive playing with various combinations of materials, he is able to evoke both the fascinating fragility as well as the energetic liveliness of nature. In comparison, my approach is more analytical and I have a tendency to place the structure of an item into a broader context where form follows meaning. These two apparently contradictory approaches are why we complement each other.
What are your biggest influences?
Our work has always been influenced by various fields and lies at the threshold between art and design jewelry. We let ourselves be inspired by chemical processes together with natural and physical phenomena. We are interested in manipulating technology and we consider an error in the process as a creative impulse. The dominant feature is excellent craftsmanship supported by innovative tailor-made tools and technologies.
How long does it take to create a collection? How big is your team?
From the first drawings and ideas to the first prototype it takes at least two months. It’s a long process, but the prototype doesn’t mean it’s finished. The Virus collection, for which we received the CGD award, was continuously developed for nearly five years. In our studio we have an additional nine members of the permanent team that has grown around us over the past few years and which has organically evolved into an extended family. Aside from three goldsmiths, who studied both traditional jewelry-making techniques as well as art, each member has a different background and skills.